Mead

10 Things I Hate About You is a movie made in the nineties based on the general story from Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.  The movies centers on a pair of sisters in high school. The younger sister, Bianca, believes that life centers on being popular, while her older sister, Kat, does everything in her power to protest and rebel against popularity and fitting in.  The basic plot is that a boy who wants to take Bianca on a date pays someone to take her sister out because of their father’s rule that Bianca can date when Kat does.

Mead presents the concept of the generalized other and how we define ourselves based on the attitudes of others.  These two sisters are polar opposites in how they regard others’ opinions.  Bianca defines herself by what the generalized other think of her.  Mead describes the generalized other as the community or group that an individual belongs to and assumes the attitudes of.  In this case, the generalized other is her peers who define who and what is considered cool or popular.

Mead defines the self as consisting of two entities, the “I” and the “Me.”  The “I” is the individual autonomy; the part of the self that makes choices and acts against societal norms.   The “Me” is the socialized, objective aspect of the self that follows the rules and norms of society.  In the film, Bianca heavily relies on her “Me,” allowing the social norms of her peers to define who she is and how she acts.  Towards the end of the movie, her “I” self increases as she chooses to date the nice guy rather than the most popular boy in school.  She makes the choice to forfeit her popularity and the certain image that others have of her to be happy.

Kat, meanwhile, began resisting this social pressure and generalized other much earlier, and before the beginning of the movie.  Her “I” is extremely defined, as she prides herself in making her own choices and doing everything in her power to control her “Me.”  She does not want to conform to societal norms or rules, and does not let the generalized other define who she is or how she acts.

Both sisters are capable of, as Mead would say, taking the attitude of others, but choose to let those attitudes affect them differently.  Bianca adapts the beliefs and attitudes of the generalized other and allows herself to be socialized.  She combines the “I” and “Me,” but allows herself, at least for the first half of the film, to be controlled by the “Me,” and how others objectively define her.  Kat refuses to accept the attitudes of the generalized other, and allows the “I” dominate her life and choices.

This film clip shows Kat’s explanation of why she acts the way she does. I could not get just the part I wanted, so it is about a 10 minute clip. The part I am referring to is at 5:52 in the clip.

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